Warning sounded over Olympic bus plan
Jeff Nagel continues to do a good job keeping an eye on Translink. But the continued barrage of complaint from Jim Houlahan about the shortage of buses does not get any clearer. The union leader continues to talk about “the less than 1,100 standard buses in TransLink’s fleet” as though the artics, community shuttle and express buses don’t count. 1,400 vehicles is the actual number though, as I have said before, I think we need to talk about FEU (forty foor equivalent units) just as they do with containers.
What is significant is that Salt Lake City added 1,000 buses for the 2002 winter Olympics. Translink plans to have 180 extra – mainly by keeping old clunkers running for longer. That is not actually a very good way of ensuring reliable service. The US solution was to call for spare capacity from other cities that see heavier peak loads in the summer than the winter and could thus afford to lend equipment and crews for the two week sports festival. Just working from first principles it seems that we will be 800 buses down on Salt Lake games. And the fact that we have SkyTrain and the Canada Line will be small comfort at many of the Olympic sites. The nearest Canada Line station to the speed skating Oval is about a mile away. And the Pacific Coliseum is similarly not served by rapid transit.
TransLink spokesperson Judy Rudin said the Olympic plan is still subject to review.
“It’s a work in progress,” she said. …
There are no plans to lease extra buses to bolster the transit system just for the period of the Games.
I think this is short sighted.
Recently the speed skating Oval was opened in Richmond. Extra buses were added to two routes in Richmond (#401 and #407) as parking was going to be at a premium at the uncompleted facility. Trouble is neither of those two routes actually serves the facility – the nearest stop is actually not very far way, but it is also far from a straightforward walk. Nobody used the extra buses.
If transit is to be an attractive, useful alternative to driving then Translink has to get much better at understanding how to make routes easy and convenient to use. The biggest block to transit use in this region is lack of service frequency and the planners at CMBC and Translink are both way out of line on what they feel is a “frequent” service. It does not mean ‘more buses than we had last year’. It means that people do not get passed up at stops – and do not have to wait for interminable periods of time due to chronic unreliability. It is not just how many buses you have, but how you use them and how much priority the bus gets in congested traffic. In my travels recently I have been been frequently struck by how easy it is to use buses elsewhere – and how frustrating it is to be stuck at a bus stop here not having the slightest idea of when – or if – the next bus will arrive. And while I am at it why not have a look at this bus driver’s blog which is where I got the graph which compares the percentage of service at ten minute or better headways here and the other two largest Canadian cities.